The Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program is endangered. Much of its funding is from voluntary contributions on our state income tax form. In 2012, contributions dropped 13.9 percent to their lowest level ever. The program desperately needs our help. All of us who can afford to help wildlife should step up to the plate now.
We can all donate when filing our state income tax by entering a contribution on Line 32a: "Endangered Wildlife Conservation.'' The bulk of the program's budget comes from sporting license fees (Inland Fish & Game Fund), permitting, grants and federal aid.
Those who have already filed their taxes can still make a direct, federally tax-deductible donation by writing a check payable to: Comm. of MA -- NHESP and sent to Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, MA Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, 100 Hartwell Street, Suite 230, West Boylston MA 01583.
Pickerel action picking up
Pre-spawning pickerel action has been very good with a few reported fish breaking the 6-pound barrier and despite the cold, winter steelhead fishing in New York has been sporadically hot. A 20-pound pike from the Sudbury River, a 12-pound tiger muskie and a 12-pound pike from Lake Quinsigamond were among the biggest fish taken through thinning ice.
Salmon reports coming in
A few reports of brood stock salmon are coming in from Comet Pond and Webster Lake, the only Central District waters receiving fish from the National Fish Hatchery in Nashua, N.H. The 3-11-pound salmon are all retirees from the Atlantic salmon restoration projects on the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers.
As the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other state partners have ended these restoration projects, it's likely that 2014 will be the last year we'll have an opportunity to catch these magnificent fish in Massachusetts. If you want one last chance at them, you might want to also try Long Pond in Plymouth, Lake Mattawa in Orange, Five Mile Pond in Springfield, Stockbridge Bowl in Stockbridge, Windsor Lake in Windsor, Lake Cochituate in Natick, Baddacook Pond in Groton, Lake Saltonstall in Haverhill and Horn Pond in Woburn.
New regulations coming
Bass clubs are being asked to submit tournament creel sheets online to help MassWildlife fisheries biologists better track and maintain quality bass populations in our state. Go to www.mass.gov/dfw/creel for the form.
New commercial bass regulations have been approved for 2014. Stripers are in trouble in much...